The government is making tremendous efforts to reinvigorate tourism, especially as the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is about to be officially opened later this year.
GEM significant milestone
The GEM, with a construction cost worth a whopping $1 billion, represents a significant milestone in Egypt’s efforts to boost tourism industry, which has faced myriad challenges in recent years including coronavirus pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war.
The museum, set to open in November, is just one facet of Egypt’s broader strategy to breathe new life into its tourism sector, a key pillar of its economy. Tourism contributes 15 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), serving as a vital source of foreign currency.
Measures taken to boost tourism
The government has taken a raft of measures to support tourism with a goal to attract 15 million tourists by the end of 2023 and 30 million by 2028. These measures include streamlining visa processes, targeting new tourist markets, and expanding the investment climate in the country.
Egypt has diversified its tourism source markets, with tourists from the Middle East and North Africa, particularly the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states, contributing more to the country’s total arrivals. This diversification has also extended Egypt’s tourist season, with tourists from these regions visiting the country during the summer.
The government aims to generate $20 billion from tourism to boost US dollar liquidity to $191 billion by 2026.
Recent Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) data showed positive growth, with the sector’s revenues increasing by 25.7 per cent during the first nine months of the fiscal year 2022/2023, reaching $10.3 billion. This growth has been primarily driven by a 26.8 per cent increase in the number of tourist nights, totalling 110.5 million nights, and a 32 per cent rise in tourist arrivals to Egypt, with a total of 10 million tourists.
National Tourism Strategy
The National Tourism Strategy launched in November 2022 aims to attract 30 million tourists to Egypt by 2028, increasing arrivals by 25-30 per cent annually.
The strategy targets a threefold increase in seat-capacity airlines in collaboration with the Ministry of Civil Aviation. It seeks to enhance tourists’ experience about archaeological sites, museums and other landmarks, create convenient products for frequent independent travellers, improve business environment and encourage investment in room capacity.
It also focuses on fast-growing markets that can attract large numbers of foeigners and widening the range of tourist activities to increase tourist spending.
In March 2023, Egypt introduced new entry visa rules in an attempt to boost tourism. Chinese tourists can obtain a visa upon arrival, as can Indian tourists who are GCC residents or have a valid entry used visa to the US, UK, Schengen countries, Canada, New Zealad, Japan, and Australia. Turkish tourists can obtain a visa upon arrival to Egypt regardless of age, as can Algerians and Moroccans travelling in tourist groups.
A series of deals have been clinched with private-sector companies to upgrade facilities on tourist sites, including visitor paths, signage, maps, QR codes, sunshades, benches, self-cleaning toilets, eco-friendly vehicles and facilities for those with special needs.
E-ticketing systems are being implemented at some sites and museums, in addition to launching a web-based platform for obtaining e-tickets to facilitate procedures.
“Egypt is a hub for all types of tourists: families, adventurers, those seeking relaxation, leisure, medical and culture,” Amr el-Kadi, CEO of the Egyptian Tourism Authority (ETA) said in recent press remarks.
“Egypt is a country with a rich history offering diverse destinations and experiences,” el-Kady said, adding that the government has refurbished archaeological sites and museums to enhance the visitor experience and reinvigorate tourism.
The ETA is working with international tour operators and agents to market Egypt as a destination for meetings, conferences and exhibitions. Deals were signed during Internationale Tourismusbörse Berlin 2023 to increase the number of flights from Germany to Egypt and launch a co-marketing campaign to promote Egypt in Germany.
Travel off Path, a website specialised in tourism and travel, highlighted in a recent report the most important reasons that attract tourists to visit Egyptian tourist destinations during the current year.
The report said that Egypt received more than 7 million tourists during the first half of this year. This number is expected to reach 15 million by the end of the year, which represents a significant increase compared to 2022.
The report indicated that Egypt boasts vibrant tourist cities, ancient monuments and places, as well as picturesque landscapes, in addition to its reasonable prices.
It also pointed out that Egypt recently introduced a multiple-entry visa valid for 5 years, which makes it easier for tourists to visit than ever before, and is an attractive factor for those who want to get to know the country more.
Travel off path noted that the tourist can use his credit card to pay in hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has executed a non-cash payment system using bankcards to purchase entry tickets to a number of archaeological sites and famous museums, including the Pyramids of Giza, the Unfinished Obelisk in Aswan, and the Citadel of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi in Cairo.
Special programmes for expats
Meanwhile, tourism-marketing expert Alaa Khalifa suggested special programmes for Egyptians abroad.
“Young people could invite their foreign hosts to see Egyptian museums and tourist attractions. Youngsters wield considerable influence on social media and they can promote Egypt after their visits,” Khalifa told local media.
He also suggested making special offers to Egyptian expatriates to visit exhibitions organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in co-operation with private companies worldwide.
“This year will witness the openings of huge tourist and archaeological projects, such as the GEM and the City of Arts and Culture in the New Administrative Capital, as well as the Great Transfiguration Project in St. Catherine,” Khalifa said. He termed these important events as a great opportunity for attracting large numbers of tourists from all over the world.
“Beach tourism on the Red Sea and Sinai are important for the country. Cultural tourists, however, are more important, as they use more local transport and buy from local bazaars.
In other words, cultural tourism is a bigger money-spinner than lounging on the sand,” he said.
Egypt top warmest tourist attraction
Egypt is among the top warmest tourist attractions to visit in the winter of 2023-2024, according to a recent report by the British newspaper The Sun.
The latest report said that the North African country is one of the warmest tourist destinations in the world, noting that the average temperature in Egypt is 19C. It is “a wonderful place to go to enjoy some winter sun,” said the report.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched several initiatives to stimulate air traffic and reinvigorate tourism, including low-cost flights and expanding air routes to various world countries.
Tourism is the engine of economic development for a country like Egypt with a unique geographical location, mild weather throughout the year, archaeological treasures that reflect the depth and distinction of its civilisation throughout ages, making up for an open museum, in addition to its wonderful beaches. All this make it fit to receive more visitors from all over the world.